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When Suhaimi Sulaiman Shares..

Written By: Nandinii Suresh Kumar

In its bid to offer a platform to the public, especially young talents  to showcase their creative works, TVS features another entry, an article by Nandinii Suresh Kumar from the School of Media and CommunicationTaylor’s University.

One of Malaysia’s top media personalities and adjunct professor with School of Media and Communication at Taylor’s University, Suhaimi Sulaiman talks about his business and self-practice agriculture with Taylor’s University’s Public Relations Event and Consultancy students.

 (Source: “Sambal, Style & Sleep” website)

Suhaimi Sulaiman is a well-known producer, broadcast journalist, anchorman, and content strategist with over 30 years of experience. He built his experience working at ASTRO AWANI, Bernama, TV3, and other famous clients. He is currently based in Kuching, but he is remotely running a cafe (Sambal, Style & Sleep) in Melaka established in 2019. His vision for the cafe is to have an attractive variety of food on his menu and provide a comfortable setting for customers to hang out with their peers.

He initially found interest in planting from the flower “Bunga Telang” also known as Asian Pigeonwings or Butterfly Pea. This was inspired by the Baba and Nyonya cuisine as this flower is often used in their dishes. Being close to the Baba and Nyonya community inspired him to use this as an ingredient in his own menu as a garnish at the cafe.

However, the main highlight of the flower is his unique blue tea. He gives off an authentic vibe to his customers by allowing them to pluck their own choice of flowers located behind his cafe. One of the benefits of using the Butterfly Pea flower is that its use in tea production isn’t complex at all. The process only includes the drying of flowers after it has been freshly plucked and does not require any sachets like common tea bags sold by industrial companies. The tea also offers good health and medicinal benefits such as graceful aging, antioxidant support, provides glowing skin and many more. The success from the planting of Butterfly Pea eventually made them plant other vegetables such as spring onions, garlic chives, chili and any other vegetables that are used for the cuisines.

This led him to pick up agriculture at a micro-level from home. He has planted garlic chives, chilies, spring onions, and celery so far. He likes using garlic chives for his “kuey teow” as it gives off the authentic taste made by locals. Once the pandemic is over, he has plans to experiment with hydroponic or aquaponic planting styles.

Street view of the Sambal, Style & Sleep Cafe located in Melaka (Source: @suhaimisulaiman on Instagram)

Cafe Branding

He has come across people questioning the sustainability of his cafe and how he earns good money from it. However, Suhaimi does not see this as a money-making machine but more of a good public relations tool to attract his customers. This is where the intention of letting his customers pick their ingredients at his cafe and showing them the process at the cafe plays its part. This gives a strong branding for his cafe.

He also aims to give his customers or people out there a different view on agriculture. He decorated the interior of his cafe with edible plants to match the modern setting of his cafe to give off the vibe where agriculture can be done within your comfort zone. In this era, youths are mostly insecure to step out of their comfort zone. A little effort can broaden the youths horizon and allow them to explore opportunities hidden in agriculture and remove the misconceptions of agriculture where it is usually portrayed as intensive labor work. His main message is, “agriculture can be fun.”

During the pandemic, he managed to find alternatives to keep his plants healthy at home. When he was not able to get seeds, soil, or fertilizers he searched up the infamous worldwide online shopping platform Shopee to gain all his required items for his plants. Due to the pandemic, he felt that the number of creative innovators increased as he found great product replacements for planting purposes from home. This, not only saved his precious time but also kept him from traveling to get these requirements which made it more convenient during the lockdown period.

Suhaimi’s homegrown Garlic Chives (Source: @suhaimisulaiman on Instagram)

Beyond Planting

Planting at home is therapeutic and a pleasure to him. Singing to plants and planting his vegetables made him stay connected with the universe. As one of his therapeutic activities is cooking, the joy of planting and reaping the fruits of his labour added flavour to his dishes.

He stands strongly by the phrase, “It is always the busy people who get things done.”

Although he is currently the CEO of TV Sarawak Media and manages more than 200 staff, he does not see this as a hindrance to allocate time for gardening at home. He also noticed the difference in some people’s personalities throughout his working experience and how the outcome to get the work done varies when it’s given to a busy individual or an individual that has time to overthink the situation and eventually not get the work done.

He constantly looks for things he can occupy his time with productively. This includes grabbing a good book, scrolling through social media platforms to get the latest news, or even going to YouTube to search for innovative ideas. These tools helped him source alternative planting methods that are more convenient and abides the movement restrictions.

He encourages the younger generation to venture into agriculture and says, “Agriculture should be an innovative process and people should be creative. Have a good business branding and always plan for the long-term.” He advises young entrepreneurs to use social media creatively to promote their agriculture or any businesses they venture in. In future, he hopes to venture into flora interior designing.

“If you see an opportunity, go for it” are his thoughts to any individual who plans to move into a field that inspires them.

This story is for ‘Youngriculture campaign’ by Public Relations Event & Consultancy students at School of Media and Communication, Taylor’s University under lecturer/project advisor of Ms. G. Manickam Govindaraju for the Department of Agriculture, Putrajaya.

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